Simplicity Challenge #1: Recycling versus Water Usage

This is our first official Simplicity Challenge. We’ll have one every month.

Simplicity Challenges came about due to my own desire to simplify my life. I cut back on some of the material things I didn’t need… I continue to work on clearing the emotional baggage that sometimes builds up in day-to-day life… and I try to plan my days by doing what’s important to me, rather than just being “busy”…

However, the term ‘simplicity’ is sometimes open to a surprising variety of interpretations. For one person, simplicity might mean sewing their own clothes and growing their own vegetables… for another person, those tasks might take up too many hours after a long work day (and take away energy that could be spent on meaningful time with family).

There’s probably no one right answer to these simplicity questions and decisions… but open discussion can help to make us think more deeply about it. So please, share your opinion!

Simplicity Challenge #1: Recycling

This first challenge relates to ‘simplicity’ in the sense of the big picture, ie leaving the Earth in as good of a state as we found it, and not leaving garbage everywhere…

Of course, I support recycling… but I also support the conservation of clean drinking water (a privilege that many regions of the world don’t get to enjoy…)

Let me explain why I bring up these two things simultaneously:

In my county – and probably many counties out there – recycling rules are fairly strict. Not all materials will be picked up. And of the materials that local services do collect– all food containers have to be scrubbed completely clean.

On their literature and instructions, it’s written and emphasized many times that any container with food residue will be thrown out, and also presents a health hazard to workers at the recycling plant.

I try to follow this guideline to a T – but gosh darn it, some of those containers, especially ones that contain sauces, just won’t come clean!

So, to do a good enough job for the recycling plant to accept it– sometimes that requires that I use up a lot of water by washing the thing sometimes two, even three times (and yes, that’s after soaking it).

And sometimes, even if the container appears spotless to my eyes… I can still smell the food on it. It literally feels almost impossible to get rid of, and I wonder– does that container end up getting thrown out rather than recycled, due to food odor and residue?

If that’s the case, then that’s probably the worst possible scenario, the “worst of both worlds”… wasting water to wash it, and STILL it ends up in a landfill rather than being recycled…

Does anyone have any additional insights into this dilemma? Or special tricks to get those containers sparkly clean without washing them repeatedly?

I’d love to hear your insights, so I can continue to do better by Mother Earth day by day. Thanks! And be sure to post your feedback and ideas to my Facebook page, here.